Fernandinho believes Manchester United will miss the influence of Paul Pogba in this weekend’s derby against Manchester City.
The Frenchman is banned from the encounter after being sent off in the 3-1 win over Arsenal for a stamp on Gunners right-back Hector Bellerin.
Fernandinho is aware that United have plenty of strength in depth, but insists that Pogba’s absence will hurt them.
“Of course, any team that loses such a good player, they are going to miss him,” he said, as quoted by Sky Sports.
“But Manchester United have good players and it doesn’t matter who is going to play in his position, they will do a good job. It will be a tough game for both teams.”
Fernandinho played as City lost their first game of the season in midweek, falling to a 2-1 defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League.
The Premier League leaders had already won their group, but the Brazilian believes the result could prove to be positive, as the players prepare for arguably the biggest game of the domestic season so far.
“The people around the club, when we start to win a lot of games, they start to say a lot of things and it’s not good,” he added. “Some of us could relax and drop our levels.
“So if you have to choose a moment to lose then this would be the right one. Derbies are always special. We need to be 100 per cent ready and focused to do our best and try to win the game.”
A victory for City would leave them 11 points clear of second-placed United with just 16 games played, but Fernandinho has scotched any talk that a victory will see his side become champions in all but name.
“The Premier League is so hard and tough,” said the Brazilian. “You can drop points at any time. It will be a little step for us if we win this game, but nothing will be finished. There will still be a long way to go.”
If City are to win the game they will have to find a way past in-form United goalkeeper David de Gea, who made a staggering 14 saves against the Gunners last weekend.
And the Spaniard has insisted that City will have to stop United, rather than the other way around.
“Can City stop United? We play at home with the fans,” he told Sky Sports.
“It’s a derby, we have confidence, we feel really strong and we want to win.
“The team is in a good moment, we won two difficult away games so we have confidence and we know we play an important game. We really want to win.”